Property 24/10 - 40

Modern home lighting
Wire lighting systems are often used in areas where it would be a challenge to mount other types of lighting, such as in rooms with very high ceilings, cathedral or vaulted ceilings and ceilings interrupted by soffits, beams or exposed ductwork. For a typically South African application - think thatched roofs, bomas or lapas. In these situations, short runs of under six metres, may characteristically be installed from wall to wall without any vertical support at all.

"They are perfect for the lounge or living area, or even the kitchen or bar area. They can also be mounted vertically for a funky, modern look. The light source is adjustable, as you can tilt the spotlight heads and shine the light wherever you want it," Says Melissa Davidson from The Lighting Warehouse.

Essentially, wire lighting systems are a low-voltage system of lighting where the mechanism that holds and conducts electricity to the light fixtures comprises a pair of cables. "For those instances where cable runs of more than six metres are required, additional vertical support is required in order to negate excessive tension from stressing the mounting points on either end of the wall," says Davidson.

Banks accused of racial discrimination
Tokyo Sexwale claims that banks are operating in a comfort zone and are not attempting to apply different lending criteria when it comes to adjudicating homes loans.

The lending practices of banks are in the spotlight after Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale claimed that banks were discriminating against lenders in contravention of the Home Loan and Mortgage Disclosure Act.

Sexwale says he is "not comfortable" with the lending practices after reports about contraventions of the Act surfaced last week. Sexwale claims that some banks were not giving sufficient attention to de-racialising the property market and only granted loans to certain types of people.

De-clutter before selling your home
Anyone who is wanting to sell a house should try to view it from the buyer's perspective and should also look into trends that are prevailing in the current market says Barbara Becker of Pam Golding Properties in Pietermaritzburg.

She says that buying trends are not dictated by banks but by other factors too, such as generational changes. "By that we mean that low interest rates are helping young buyers to invest in their own homes. So if you are selling a house consider how it will suit some of the younger buyers that are coming into the market and will qualify for the bond finance," says Becker.

She claims that younger buyers want to give a home their own identity and for this reason it is an idea to neutralize a home when putting it onto the market.

New act puts home buyers first
Property buyers will no longer run the risk of losing their deposit if a property sale falls through once the new Consumer Protection Act comes into force. The new Act will be applicable from 1 April next year.

Trudie Broekmann, a senior associate at Webber Wentzel says that estate agents will no longer be able to insert a clause in the offer to purchase allowing the purchaser to forfeit a deposit is the sale is cancelled other than if the purchaser defaults.

She says the act points out that this would be an unfair clause and if it is included in the sale agreement, a consumer court or a magistrate's court could rule the entire agreement null and void.

Other protection measures for home buyers include the fact that the sale agreement must stipulate that the transfer costs are to be paid by the purchaser because if this is not stipulated then the seller could be made liable for the transfer cost.

Prepaid meters installed for free
A property development company is installing pre-paid meters in the sectional title units it manages without charging the tenants or owners anything to do so. The reason for this is that increasingly bodies corporate are facing unpaid levies and electricity bills from owners or tenants who do not pay their dues.

Sectional title property specialist Angor says that by installing pre-paid meters, financial management of properties is that much easier.

Company chief executive, Pieter de Wet says that while pre-paid meters are freely available on the South African market they do tend to be expensive to install for cash-strapped residents and property owners.

Olifants home must be demolished
A homeowner has been ordered to demolish a house that was built on the banks of the Olifants River Estuary and then to rehabilitate the site. The homeowner has been granted leave to appeal to the provincial environment MEC.

Conservationist in the Western Cape were apparently outraged when building work on the property started several months ago. A group calling itself the Friends of Die Swart Tobie (a slang term for the African Black Oystercatcher) demanded that action be taken against the owner, Chris Koch for erecting the new structure.

The house has been built on the northern bank of the Olifants River with a deck that extends outwards into the estuary. Koch had allegedly failed to get planning approval for the house and had not applied for permission to build it in terms of the National Environmental Management Act.

SA property falls in global rankings
The rapid deceleration in house price growth in recent months has seen South Africa slip markedly in the global performance rankings.

UK-based Knight Frank's latest Global House Price Index shows that South Africa ended the third quarter of 2010 in 22nd place, down from 6th position in the second quarter.

UK-based Knight Frank's latest Global House Price Index released earlier this week shows that South Africa ended the third quarter of 2010 in 22nd place, down from 6th position in the second quarter. Knight Frank tracks price movements in 48 countries across the world.

According to the latest index, South Africa managed house price growth of an average 3% in the third quarter. That is significantly down from the 14,8% recorded in the second quarter (year-on-year).

However, it's not only South Africa where the housing recovery has lost steam. Liam Bailey, head of residential research at Knight Frank, says a number of countries have even tipped back into negative growth in the past three months. A total of 14 mainly European countries saw negative growth in the third quarter after they had experienced several quarters of rising prices.

Home sellers expecting too much?
Limited access to finance and the affordability of homes are hampering property sales according to South African estate agents who claim that the extensive number of available properties are making buyers more discerning.

Samuel Seeff, chairman of Seeff Properties says that buyers are currently "in the pound seats" although many sellers are still trying the get prices that were last seen in 2007 when the property market was buoyant.

He says that if sellers are still expecting to achieve the 2007 price levels then the house is likely to be on the market for a long time and the number of offers will be limited and certainly below the 2007 levels.

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